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There follows a transcript of the speech made by Alan Whitehead, minister for local goverment, at the launch of the...
There follows a transcript of the speech made by Alan Whitehead, minister for local goverment, at the launch of the DTLR Strategic Partnering:

'I particularly wish to welcome the executives and associate members of the DTLR Strategic Partnering Taskforce. As the chair of your Advisory Board I look forward to working with you.

I would also like to welcome and, thank, those local authorities and private sector companies many of whom are represented here tonight, who agreed to second or loan their staff onto the Taskforce.

The purpose of this evening is to mark the establishment of the Strategic Partnering Taskforce. It has been formed to help local authorities develop Strategic Service-delivery Partnerships. These arrangements embrace the whole range of PPPs, but go wider and take in public-public and public-voluntary solutions as well. As the Taskforce is implementing an R&D programme, it is seeking new solutions and models, therefore challenging the status quo and existing models of delivery.

That is quite a task.

But this Government has set as one of its highest priorities the need to deliver real improvements in our public services. Our ambition is to build world-class public services for Britain. Local Government will be at the forefront of delivering these services.

There are many local authorities who are delivering first class services already. Making a real difference. But equally, we all know places where this is not the case.

There are also many Elected members, Chief Executives, and Managers across local government who want to deliver improvements to their services but who need some practical help. The Taskforce's aim is to provide that help and, show others what is possible to achieve.

So, last month we invited all best value authorities in England to apply for pathfinder status as part of the programme. This is a real opportunity for them to benefit from expert advice and learning.

White Paper and the review of best value.

The forthcoming White Paper will mark the next step in our shared drive to modernise and reform local government. It will be a step towards delivering top quality local services and providing the strong and confident community leadership that successful communities need.

The White Paper, will reemphaise the role of best value as a driver in improving those services; and will also be our focus in our current review of the best value framework.

The Taskforce will play a crucial role in that review.

It is going to do this by helping us to identify new models of partnership working which will help deliver real improvements to services on the ground.

I should say, that what marks this Taskforce out from others before it, is that it is not promoting one particular model. Strategic Service-delivery Partnerships - by definition - are an approach to procurement and partnering which embrace differing models.

But, although particular partnership arrangements on the ground may look very different they will all take a common approach which sets them apart from traditional ways of working.

They will be quality driven and add value to the overall outcome. They will not cut costs at the expense of the workforce. Approach issues from a corporate assessment of need; be based on the needs of users and involve effective consultation; and seek to develop innovative solutions in the delivery of better services.

Often this will mean taking a longer-term view rather than seeking short-term and unsustainable gains.

So it is about investing to save, investing to deliver more and investing to prevent problems rather than continuing to treat symptoms.

We need to move from thinking about existing services to thinking about the outcome we want to see, not just from the narrow needs of a particular authority department but from a wider community perspective

What kinds of projects are we looking for?

So what kinds of projects are we looking for?

To some extent we are leaving that to the authorities themselves and hopefully the quality of the proposals will give me and the other members of the Advisory Board some tough choices to make.

But in the final analysis, what is most important is a real commitment from the authorities who apply.

When considering the proposals there are some things - as the local government minister - I would be interested in seeing - but do not let that influence you!

- in corporate services, and e-government more joint procurement and delivery, and the utilisation of business process re-engineering to the benefit of front-line services

- Transport - perhaps we should have strategic local approaches across the transport modes, which embrace highway authorities, bus companies, and other players in public transport

- Environment - lets try and make a visible difference to our streets, our parks, and our communities - both urban and rural - through local services and breakdown the boundaries which CCT created

- Education - building upon the work of the DfES we need to move to towards voluntary approaches to improving LEA performance, and embrace successful LEAs in these solutions.

- Health and social services - I would like to build on existing local co-operation between local authorities and the health sector in pooling budgets, moving forward on a broader front towards pooling corporate business plans and, new integrated structures.

But, in supporting authorities, we do not ignore the work of others such as the 4Ps, PUK, the IDeA, OGC, NHS Lift and others like them. The Taskforce will be able to tap into the skills and experience of these organisations and direct authorities to the most appropriate source of advice.

And the Taskforce will advise on additional sources of funding like the Invest to Save Budget, PFI credits, Capital Modernisation Fund and Local Government Online. And it will sponsor funding applications where necessary.

Nor do we ignore those authorities that are already taking forward strategic partnering arrangements. Indeed I would like to thank them on behalf of the Taskforce for their support so far. We are looking utilize your learning further and, in return, provide you access to the programme to help ensure the success of your partnerships in the future.

I hope that provides you with a flavour of the Taskforce's work. I think, I have said enoughit is about time we get back to enjoying the rest of the evening.

If you want to speak to a member of the Taskforce please do. You will notice that their name badges are a different colour. We also have copies of the prospectus and pathfinder application pack available for those who not yet seen them.

It is only left for me to say thank you again for coming. Enjoy the rest of the evening.'

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